The German cycle of the Holy Graal owes nothing to the romances of Merlin, and it embodies no attempt to incorporate Arthurian history, except in so far as this is in close consanguinity with its own purpose. A few fragments make it evident that archaic Provençal literature once included some translation of Merlin, but whether it
exceeded the point reached by the poem of Robert de Borron or its prose rendering there is no evidence to show. Speaking antecedently, from the great body of romance which was produced in Spain, we might have expected many reflections therein, but we know only (a) of simple allusions scattered through the interminable books of chivalry, and (b) of three printed texts, two of which I have cited by a bare allusion already. El baladro del sabio Merlin is in substance a rendering of the Huth manuscript, and all that we have heard concerning it has been given us by Gaston Paris. The second text is Merlin y demanda del Santo Grial, so that the Quest--and it is the Great Quest--did enter the Peninsula. I do not know under whose eyes it has fallen in these places of the world, and it is only from sparse references in German authors that I have been able to certify even to this extent. There is, however, La Demanda del santo Grial, which appeared at Toledo in 1515, of which I shall speak in the Appendix.
Portugal had also its solitary version of the Galahad Quest, and probably it is much more important than that which we meet with in Spain, for it has been found to contain the missing final part of the Huth Merlin. Some years ago an attempt was made to re-edit it, not from the printed version, but from a Viennese manuscript. I cannot trace that the task was ever completed, and in so far as the text is available in this fragmentary manner, the variations from the normal versions of the Quest, though interesting to textual scholars, are not important to us. The Viennese manuscript seems to have included also some form of the Morte d’Arthur. It may be termed composite in character, as it introduces matter which seems extraneous to the Quest. It is also in another key; there is even a wooing of Galahad; Palamades reappears therein; so also does Tristram. As a note in fine on the whole subject, it should be said that, all communications notwithstanding between Southern France and Spain and all Spanish-Oriental allusions reflected into the
[paragraph continues] Parsifal of Wolfram from the Quest of Guiot, the rumour of the Graal which reached the Peninsula was of Galahad rather than another. The Templeisin, the Stone, the hierarchy of fallen angels, have no part therein. And so, as I have just hinted, there is a certain intellectual consolation in knowing that the Quest of Galahad did pass into the life of Spanish romantic chivalry. One would have thought that it must have had a great vogue where the sons and daughters of desire accepted so easily in their hearts some phase at least of desire in the life of devotion. This, of course, was not to be expected at the period of its production, but in that much later century when the literature of chivalry itself began to assume the official draperies of religion. The new aspect was unfortunately at once conventional and extravagant, and perhaps the Quest was too spiritual in the transcendental degree for it to be quite within the compass of the Iberian mind. The tendency which produced The Book of Celestial Chivalry in the middle of the sixteenth century originated much earlier, and that which made Esplandian or Don Belianis of Greece as if it were peers of Christ, when Christ became a knight-errant, had long before registered the vocation of Galahad as a thing unrealisable. Whether the Quest was known to Cervantes is interesting at once and insoluble, for it did not enter into the catalogue of Don Quixote's library, either for praise or blame. However this may be, those who are acquainted with the Book of Celestial Chivalry and kindred productions will be in a position to appreciate the kind of inhibition which seems to have befallen the flights of romance when they sought to body forth the aspirations and emotions towards things unseen. It is a condition which is the more curious when we remember the Ascent of Mount Carmel, the Dark Night of the Soul and all that which is told us of worlds too seldom realised by Peter de Avila and Molinos. In some of the books which are attributed, falsely enough, to Raymond Lully--but for which a Spanish source can perhaps be predicated reasonably--and
in the theosophical quests and ventures through the tangled skein of the Zohar, there is more of the true spirit of romance than in all Spanish tales of chivalry, if we set aside those of Amadis and Palmerin. All that follows thereafter shows only that there were other and drearier enchantments than those of Logres.
The claims of this sub-section cannot be regarded as high in respect of sidelights, but seeing that my least concern of all is to establish an exhaustive scheme of texts, it follows that I must confess to some other motive for its inclusion, restricted as in space it is. My purpose is therefore to show that to none of the romance countries--France excepted--did the cycle of Perceval appeal, and, I believe, for another cause than the mere fact that the later Merlin, the Lancelot, the Quest of Galahad were in prose, while some of the Perceval stories were cast in verse, which may have offered a difficulty. Even if the fact were due to the accidents of that which was most available, I hold it a felicitous accident that only Seville produced a quest of Perceval.